Floor hockey tending a rich tradition

It all started in a Kitsumkalum driveway with an original four, two sets of brothers, including the Horners who still run the program today.

Zac Wilson and Lyle Glover fight for the ball in front of the net

Zac Wilson and Lyle Glover fight for the ball in front of the net

Kitsumkalum floor hockey has engaged youth and adults for more than 30 years and has a rich history that picks up with its own original four.

Now played Wednesdays and Sundays, the drop-in Kitsumkalum ball hockey is for anyone who has a stick and cares to come out.

“It’s just fun to be with the guys and a great workout,” said Shane Gillis, who has played for the last six years at the Kitsumkalum Hall.

Kurtis Spalding grew up in Kitsumkalum and has been playing for 22 years, since before the hall was built and they played on the gravel parking lot.

“My whole family, we all grew up playing hockey… family inspired us,” he said.

Spalding is a cousin to the family who has run the program for the last 30 years, and the history reaches back to 1978.

Dwayne Horner said it all started in his driveway in Kitsumkalum, where he and his brother Vernon used plywood markers for their net and just started playing.

“We used to play quite religiously down here: we’d all go to work, and then go home and then meet up an hour after work and play for hours on end,” said Dwayne.

A few years later, Rodney and Will Bolan and their family moved to the neighbourhood and the boys joined the driveway pick-up.

Ball hockey grew from there, with more people coming out to play and the game moving first to the street and then to the Kitsumkalum parking lot.

“It was great. It was fun having all the buddies around, playing hockey, laughing and joking. Sometimes it got serious, but it all stayed on the floor,” he said of the competition.

A group of the street hockey players formed the Kitsumkalum Killers in the early-90s to compete in ball hockey tournaments in Thornhill and across the north.

They travelled to Williams Lake, Kitwanga, and Hazelton for a few years, even won the Williams Lake tournament one year.

The tournaments were fun, but the consistent ball hockey was still played at the Kitsumkalum Hall, engaging anyone in town with an interest.

“It’s had a pretty big following,” said Jeremy Harris of the hockey program.

“A lot of players in Terrace have been down and played hockey in the hall.”

Vernon Horner said a big reason he kept it up was to teach his children.

“We wanted to play hockey with our kids – with our sons and cousins and nephews,” he said.

Vernon and Dwayne came early for several years to run drills and teach the children basic passing and shooting skills.

“It was lots of fun playing with the kids and everything. Teaching them how to play and how to get along with each other while we are playing,” said Vernon. “It’s good to kill some time and get exercise.”

Dwayne agreed, saying he feels it is a great program to have.

“I think it’s very important for kids to have recreational activities to keep them in good health and keep them out of trouble,” he said.

In 1996 when the Kitsumkalum Hall was completed, ball hockey moved inside and Vernon says the numbers of people who dropped in spiked to 20-30 people most weeks.

Those who come throw their sticks into a pile, which someone sorts into halves to determine the teams.

Vernon’s son Aaron Horner took over running the program in 2012 and says it continues to be a great activity to keep youth busy, healthy, and out of trouble.

Aaron said with the expenses of ice hockey, it is great to have this available for the community, and to have the Kitsumkalum band provide funds towards the gear and give the space.

“We’re pretty fortunate to have the hall,” he said.